22 novembre 2013

Le Fosse Ardeatine raccontate in India

Deccan Herald(Bangalore) 9.11.2013 Through the history of Rome Nov 9, 2013, DHNS History lovers were in for a treat at a lecture and interactive session by Italian scholar and oral historian Alessandro Portelli, titled ‘Event and Memory’, at the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) recently. The event was organised by NGMA, along with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Public History. On his first visit to the City, Alessandro Portelli spoke about the 1944 incident, where Nazi occupying forces in Rome executed 335 men as a retaliation for a partisan attack. Discussing the history of the massacre, its symbolic significance to the historical image of Rome and relating it to the anti-fascist foundation of the Italian democracy, Alessandro Portelli raised the controversies involved and the myths that surround the memory of the event. “I’m using a specific Roman incident to raise questions mainly on how public memory works. I am hoping that through the comments and question-and-answer round, this session will turn into a learning experience for me,” said the oral historian, adding, “I don’t know much about India or more like, not enough that I can talk about.” He added, “Im trying to find my way around the City since it’s my first time here. But I have found that people here are showing a lot of interest in my work.” Speaking during the event, Alessandro Portelli pointed out that the ‘cold-blooded massacre’ is a highly symbolic event. “Having taken place in Rome, which houses the head of the Catholic Church, it was bound to have a greater resonance than if it had taken place in a smaller place. The massacre has a long history and is highly symbolic,” he said. Indira Chowdhury, director of Centre for Public History said, “It’s taken a while to organise this event. But we felt that there would be many who would benefit by listening to this lecture.” The packed auditorium listened in rapt attention. “My keen interest in history is what brings me here. I am an avid reader and am paticularly fond of non-fiction. It will be interesting to hear different perspectives. But it’s not often that I get to attend a lecture of this kind,” said Prashanth, a member of the audience. Many who made their way to the lecture after work were hoping that it would be worth the effort. “I want to understand the history of Rome of which I don’t have much of an idea. This is a great opportunity for me to do the same,” said Arun, another member of the audience. History student Sowmya, who enjoyed the experience, shared, “I didn’t know what to expect when I came in. But it was really interesting and that just shows in the sheer number of people who are here.” The Hindu November 14, 2013 The right to remember SRAVASTI DATTA TALK Alessandro Portelli’s talk on The Fosse Ardeatine Massacre brought to light the role of memory in shaping a narrative Differs in the tellingAnd in reminiscence, according to Alessandrophoto: sampath kumar g.p. Our understanding of the past is often coloured by how we choose to remember it. This was reflected in a recent talk Event and Memory: The Fosse Ardeatine Massacre held at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) by the Centre for Public History of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology. Renowned oral historian, writer and musicologist, Alessandro Portelli spoke about his book The Order Has Been Carried Out , which explores the Fosse Ardeatine Massacre. On March 24, 1944, 335 men were killed by Nazis in Rome. “The attack was supposedly in retaliation for a Partisan attack, an attack that the Italian liberalisers had waged against the Nazis,” says Alessandro. “Rome became the head quarters for the Nazis fighting in the front. As soon as the Nazis occupied the city, an underground liberation movement began. It was an entirely voluntary movement and all the political anti-fascist organisations joined them. It was a hard time for the people in Rome. They had to survive hunger and air raids, which killed thousands of people. To affirm that Rome was not entirely under the Nazis, the partisans began to attack the Nazis in different parts of the town.” On March 23, 1944, a group of Partisans attacked a group of Nazi soldiers attached to the SS. “It was an event that seemed to show that the Nazis did not control the city, that they were not invulnerable. And, therefore, it became immediately necessary for the Nazis to terrorise the city.” Significant The massacre became symbolic for a number of reasons. “The first was the location of the massacre. Rome is not just any place. It is a highly symbolic city. In fact, throughout WWII, in Europe, this was the only major cold blooded massacre that took place in a big city. This wasn’t the worst massacre in the history of Germany-occupied Italy. There have been others in which more people were killed by the air raids of the Allies. Most Nazi massacres took place in rural places. In most other mass killings, the social composition of the victims was relatively homogenous as the population of a rural village or a small town is. In Rome, what you had was a cross-section of the population of the big city.” The stories Alessandro has chronicled in his book are of the people who were involved in the event. “The victims were all men, which means the story of the survivors were mainly memories of women.” And it was in speaking to and understanding the stories of those who were directly affected by the massacre, that Alessandro realised that oral history goes beyond what society considers “relevant” to be recorded. Alessandro says the massacre was a complicated process. “It was very well organised. They drew up lists, they had logistics. “Often in the commemoration of the event, people talk about it as a ‘barbarous, savage massacre’, I think this is a serious mistake. This was a highly civilised massacre. It could not have been performed unless you had all of state and bureaucracy working to make it possible. It is important to understand that if we say it was a barbarous massacre, we are saying we have had nothing to do with it, we’re civilised. It was our civilisation that made Auschwitz possible; it could not have been done without chemical industries, without the modern state. “That raises the meaning of the event in terms of our heritage, our civilisation.” However, what makes this event especially controversial is the way it’s been remembered, says Alessandro. “The anti-Partisan narrative goes like this: the Partisans attacked those poor German soldiers and they killed them and then the Nazis posted bills all over the city saying unless the perpetrators turn themselves in, we shall have to kill 10 people for every German killed, so that in the end the blame falls on the Partisans, who are guilty of not turning themselves in and therefore, forcing the poor Germans to kill 335 people. “So who do we blame? We do not blame the Nazis because they did what they had to do. But we blame the Partisans for attacking the Nazis and for allowing them to be killed.” Alessandro says what actually occurred is different from what is remembered of the event. “The Nazis didn’t post any bills and didn’t look for Partisans. The massacre took place less than 24 hours after the Partisan attack. So it’s clearly a false narrative. However, it has taken roots in public imagination due to a number of reasons.” SRAVASTI DATTA


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